FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MHARR Presses for Accountability on HUD Program Finances
Washington, D.C., July 26, 2011 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) continues to press Congress to hold the federal manufactured housing program at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fully accountable – for the first time -- for its budget and appropriations requests, in light of the industry's continuing 13-year production decline.
Acting on a key element of the congressional engagement plan adopted by the MHARR Board of Directors in November 2010, MHARR, earlier this year, submitted written testimony to both houses of Congress and has since followed-up with appropriators, suggesting that Congress hold the HUD program accountable on key issues relating to the 2012 program budget and appropriations request, which seeks $7 million in taxpayer funds in addition to a proposed increase of more than 50% in the label fee paid by manufacturers. Thus, while the industry is in its worst economic condition in 62 years and small, independent industry businesses are struggling just to survive a downturn of unprecedented severity and duration, the federal program, its funding and its fees continue to expand. As a result, MHARR has asked Congress to thoroughly examine: (1) why the proposed 2012 program budget remains at a high level despite drastic declines in industry production – 86% since 1998 and nearly 50% just since 2007; (2) why funding for the program regulatory apparatus (i.e., the program monitoring contractor, other contractors and program staff) continues to grow despite this drastic production decline; and (3) why program budgets have significantly reduced funding for State Administrative Agencies (SAAs), partners in the manufactured housing program, while increasing funding for the program regulatory apparatus, when SAAs are the first line of consumer protection for a growing stock of both new and existing homes.
In response to requests from appropriators, and to support its position that the proposed 2012 HUD program budget is unjustified and includes potentially unnecessary expenditures and activities that can and should be reduced by Congress, MHARR has submitted suggestions to Congress that would reduce program spending authority by more than 35%, while increasing funding for SAAs by 22% . This proposal achieves a prudent and realistic balance between funding for the program's federal and state activities in a manner that is fully consistent with Administration policy on avoiding unnecessary regulatory burdens and costs as set out in Executive Order 13563 and related statements.
Direct appropriations for the manufactured housing program began in 2009, when HUD regulators, with industry support, first requested a "one-time" $5.4 million infusion of tax funds for the stated purpose of implementing the new installation and consumer satisfaction programs of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000. Although these programs have yet to be fully implemented, HUD's requests for direct appropriations of tax dollars have not only continued, but have actually grown, as such appropriated funds have been used for other purposes. HUD, however, has never been required by Congress to account for the use of those funds and for its continuing requests for taxpayer dollars. Thus, it is long past time to initiate and maintain such accountability, beginning with the 2012 program budget and appropriations request. # #
The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform is a Washington, D.C. based national trade association representing the views and interests of producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing.